"I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment... and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance than I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn." -Thoreau

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Awkward Nerd Girl

Let us briefly consider a unique creature: the awkward nerd girl.

The awkward nerd girl subsists on a hearty diet of scientific articles, literary novels, and exercises in mathematical abstraction. This is often supplemented by strong doses of fine art and poetry, philosophical discussion, and close reading of historical texts.

The awkward nerd girl is not pretty. She is not gorgeous, she is not beautiful. She is definitely not "hot." 
At best, she is "kind-of-cute-in-an-awkward-way"-- but mostly she is overlooked. 
By and large, the awkward nerd girl rejects the 'shallow societal obsession with physical beauty' (the claim that something is fashionable is a strike against the item, more often than not)… but when the time for public procession actually comes around, she stands awkwardly in her less-than-fashionable selections, torn between loving and hating herself for the rebellion.
In her heart of hearts, the awkward nerd girl wishes she were beautiful.

The awkward nerd girl is appropriately situated in settings of a very particular nature: a library, a classroom, a coffee shop, and the confines of her own book-laden bedroom are prime examples. Other sites are nerd-girl-neutral: a grocery store, a public restroom, or a swing-set at the local park, perhaps. But certain sites are strictly forbidden: fashionable boutique stores, large parties, and, most certainly, steamy dance floors.
Let's face it: the image of the awkward nerd girl dancing (awkwardly) to music with a strong beat and highly questionable lyrics is offensive to the sensibilities of all parties.

My own role, unsurprisingly, is that of the awkward nerd girl. When placed on a dance floor pulsing with the latest tunes in pop culture, a large red exclamation mark quickly appears over my head.
 Does not belong! Warning! Awkward nerd girl has entered the dance floor!
I rigorously avoid eye contact. I grimace in understanding of the pain others must experience at beholding the taboo sight. My mind and body quickly cave under the torrential pressure of public disapproval, and I steadily crumble into a small pile of awkward self-consciousness.
Awkward nerd girl does not belong.

In the way of dance, this awkward nerd girl has turned to a sneaky refuge.

Ballroom dancing is beautiful. It is graceful. It is classic.
But the key point for the awkward nerd girl is another. Ballroom dancing is structured-- and therefore, it is safe.

My family expressed all sorts of surprise at the idea of my doing any sort of dancing.
I am stiff, terribly self-conscious, less-than-coordinated, and… awkward.
I am pretty sure they still don't buy it.

But what they don't understand is that ballroom offers a layer of protection for the awkward nerd girl.
Consider the following:
Waltz demands you trace out boxes. Cha calls for tetras shapes. Squares, line segments, circles… 
Geometric precision.
All in all, it seems like a perfect task for the awkward nerd girl.

It is only later that the stiffness melts away. We lose the simple  rigidity of basic geometric shapes and introduce more complex curves, rotating waltz boxes in ballroom frames evocative of ln(x).
It is geometry and vector calculus.
It is precise and fluid.
We are anchored by structure... and so we feel safe to introduce "Latin hip motion" under discussion of proper mechanics. After a while it's not too hard to sneak in flirtatious winks and intense passion and butterfly fragility. It's not too difficult to slip into lovely gowns (though sexy Latin skirts still defy us-- they are not fooled) , and to dream of personal beauty whilst tracing out elegant patterns with mathematical precision. The awkward nerd girl knows that it is for those elegant structures which the audience claps, not for her… but still. At that moment she is free to dream of beauty and sophistication and black-lace evening-dresses.


  1. Aw, I love the awkward nerd girl!

  2. Haha! Thanks, Tristan! I'm glad you could appreciate her :]